Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
Thank you for the A2A.
Yes, it is true that eating meat was not prohibited as per ancient scriptures. But it was not permitted for certain sects to consume meat.
As far as I know, meat was not consumed by the Brahmins(priestly class). It was permitted for all other sects…especially the Kshatriyas (ruling class). There are ample examples even in our epics that suggest that meat was an integral part of royal menus.
By and by, concepts of non-violence seeped into Sanatana Dharma, thanks to faiths like Buddhism and Jainism that branched out from Sanatana Dharma and evolved further. People slowly began to see the barbarism in animal slaughter. When there were so many vegetarian alternatives, why kill an innocent animal for no fault of its? Slowly, yet steadily, many people quit eating animals and moved to strict Sattvic diets. They found their tempers to be cooler and their health and stamina to be much improved.
Food has always formed an integral part of Indian society, what with ancient scriptures even dividing food into three broad classifications – Tamasic, Rajasic, Sattvic and combinations of those. If interested, you could read about them here→
I don’t know how much of truth is there in this theory but I am compelled to believe that it could be true. It is oft said that ‘You are what you eat’. A person inherits some qualities of the food that he consumes. This is why people who consume a lot of meat are seen showing a lot more aggressive behavior than those who don’t consume meat. I live in the middle east and the locals here consume enormous quantities of meat every day…from breakfast to dinner. They cannot even imagine a vegetarian diet for the life of them.
No egg, no meat? What do you eat then? Salads? I was asked once.
And if you see their innate aggressiveness, one is compelled to believe that the theory just might be true. They way they drive their cars, their general impatience, and many other factors show their aggressive side. If you look around you, you would observe the same restlessness and impatience among people who consume a lot of meat…especially red meat.
Come to think of it, I guess this explains why meat was such an important part of the menus of kings and royalty of old. They needed that aggressiveness to be able to valorous on the battlefield.
On the contrary, if you observe pure vegetarians, most of them will be quiet and thoughtful souls. They are relatively more peaceful, placid and don’t get into quarrels easily. Of course, there could be exceptions. I am just looking at the larger picture.
I would like to believe that Indians preferred this quality over aggressiveness. They felt more pure and clean inside when they consumed only vegetarian food. And there was also the added relief of not accumulating the sin of having killed an innocent animal.
A very angry young man posted a comment under my answer that deserves to be added here as it made me look up on the internet for any scientific backing for my answer. Take a look…
This is an opinion rather than an answer and it blatantly pigeonholes people who choose to include meat in their diet. So your rationale is that in a region that comprises of more than 93% meat-eater(93% Muslims who do eat meat regularly and an additional unknown percentage of people belonging to other faiths),whenever an incident wherein someone being rude,aggressive,hostile or plain rude to you is encountered,the behavior must be attributed to the dietary habits of the said aggressive person instead of the numerous social,professional or other reasons that may actually be responsible for it,mustn’t it?
Hmmm, I guess the next time I face some hostility from someone,say in Ayodhya or Varanasi,I should be quick on the trigger to allude that hostility to him/her being a vegetarian,shouldn’t I?
“This is why people who consume a lot of meat are seen showing a lot more aggressive behavior than those who don’t consume meat.” Where are they seen? Which region,locality,battlefield,arena are you talking about? Which study has proved it? Sounds to me like an unsubstantiated opinion.
“Of course, there could be exceptions. I am just looking at the larger picture.” So, does the larger picture say that if I come across a peaceful, placid,quiet and a thoughtful soul,there’s an exceptionally high chance that he/she is a vegetarian? I doubt so. There’s nothing that scientifically backs your claim. If you can resort to anecdotal evidences to defend your opinion,so can I. I am from a Gujarati majority college(80%+ Vegetarians) and I too faced some aggressiveness. Should I hold the dietary habits accountable for the aggressiveness?Going by your logic,I should. Going by my rationale,I shouldn’t. But does anecdotal evidence hold any water in proving such a claim?NO. So,neither mine nor yours anecdotal evidence really matters.
The opinion you made reeks of sanctimony.
Just highlighting one statement in my answer that you seem to have missed intentionally or unintentionally…
I don’t know how much of truth is there in this theory…
I have very plainly stated that I don’t know for sure if this is true or not. You are making gross generalizations yourself when I meant none of those things. Most of your sentences in your reply start with an assumption 🙂 But your very angry response did make me look up this topic on the internet. And I think you ought to look at some articles that do in fact substantiate what I have written and not just the link you shared that talks of the nutritional benefits of meat.
There is also a detailed Quora question on this topic →
This came as a pleasant surprise as what I had written in my answer was based on ancient lore we all grew up hearing. It was surprising to see that this has scientific backing as well.
For the record, I’m not a vegetarian myself. I do consume very small quantities of chicken and egg. I was just answering this question based on what I know.